Troubleshooting Tips & FAQs
How to Properly Reset a “Tripped” Circuit Breaker
When a particular circuit in the house is not working, customers commonly call and say something to the effect of, “I checked the electrical panel and there are no tripped circuit breakers," or “I have reset all the circuit breakers...
Check your bulb wattages
Most light fixtures list the maximum wattage bulb somewhere on or near the socket of the fixture. A bulb of too high a wattage may overheat the socket or fixture wiring and result in damage to the light fixture, or...
Bathroom, Kitchen, Garage, Basement or Outside Plugs not Working?
One of the most common service calls we receive is a problem that can often be resolved by the simple push of a button. If you’re experiencing one of the above problems, you may have what is known as a...
Tame those cords!
Cords stretched across walkways may cause someone to trip. Whenever possible, arrange furniture so that outlets are available for lamps and appliances without the use of extension cords. Extension cords should not be used as a substitute for permanent wiring....
Appliance Power Budgets
Circuits can only handle a specified total wattage of all the electrical products connected to that circuit. If too much wattage is plugged into a circuit, serious electrical problems can result. Here is a guide to knowing what a circuit...
Circuit Breaker Safety
Each year many Americans are injured in and around their homes. Unsafe conditions such as overloaded circuits and damaged insulation as well as the misuse of extension cords and electrical products create fire hazards and may result in electrocutions. Circuit...
Outlets and Switches
Switches are used to turn the power on and off. Receptacle outlets are usually mounted on a wall or floor to supply electricity to appliances through a cord and plug. Unusually warm or hot outlets or switches may indicate that...
Frequently Asked Questions
My switch-plate is hot. Should I be concerned?
Oftentimes switch-plates become “hot” (or warm) where there are dimmer switches installed. When a dimmer switch is functioning, it dissipates the excess heat through the metal chassis (or “fins”) of the switch itself. A good rule of thumb is if the switch-plate is so hot you cannot comfortably hold your hand against it, that’s probably an indicator that you’re overloading your dimmer and you need to call an electrician. If your switch-plate is hot (or even warm) and you don’t have a dimmer switch installed, it’s definitely something you should be concerned about.
My dishwasher suddenly stopped working. Should I schedule a service call?
By code, all motorized appliances (which includes dishwashers) must have some kind of “service disconnect” (a visible means of disconnecting the power to the equipment while being serviced by a technician). Though some electricians install receptacles under the sink to serve as the disconnecting means, many electricians simply install a wall switch at the kitchen counter (usually in the vicinity of the dishwasher). Before you call an electrician or an appliance repair-person, make sure someone hasn’t inadvertently turned a wall switch to the “off” position or unplugged the appliance.
Why do I see a spark when I plug in my clothes iron or other appliance?
Whenever you plug in anything that has an electrical “load” on it, you may see a slight spark at the receptacle socket. The greater the electrical “load” the greater the potential spark. This happens simply because the demand for electricity is present as you’re plugging the item into the socket and the electricity literally “jumps” from the socket to the plug tips of the appliance cord, creating an electrical arc. The way to avoid this electrical arc is to make sure whatever appliance or tool you’re plugging into the socket is turned off before inserting it into the socket. If your receptacle continues to spark, or is sparking at any other time, it’s time to call an electrician.
How can I tell if I have a bad light-bulb?
I can’t tell you how many service calls we’ve made where the problem turns out to simply be a bad light-bulb. The only sure way to tell whether a light-bulb is bad is to install the bulb in a fixture you know is working properly (this is especially important with florescent fixtures). If the bulb still doesn’t work, then it’s more-than-likely a bad bulb (assuming it’s been installed properly). If it does work, it may be time to call an electrician. Remember, just because it’s a new light-bulb (straight out of the package) that does not guarantee that it is good. Contrary to popular belief, shaking a light-bulb and not hearing a rattle is not an indicator whether the bulb is good or bad.